7/15/13: Guest contributor Jennifer Lane on the in-car Net radio revolution

Paul Maloney
July 15, 2013 - 7:00am

This week in RAIN we're featuring contributions from various industry executives, journalists, and experts on the state and future of Internet radio.

Pandora will be installed
in one-third of the new cars sold this year, which represents an impressive effort on the part of the leading Internet radio station in the U.S. That fact appeared in The Wall Street Journal's WSJ.com recently [more in Audio4cast here].

Pandora’s strategy of gaining automotive deals also gets them lots of listeners -- Pandora says they have seen more than 2.5 million unique activations through integrations from the 23 major automotive brands and eight aftermarket manufacturers with whom they have partnerships.

Meanwhile, the popularity of streaming and the connected dashboard is not being overlooked by SiriusXM. Despite deals that already have their satellite service installed in a long list of vehicles, SiriusXM has been improving its streaming offering of late, and just announced a deal with Ford that will pair both its satellite and online radio offerings in new Ford cars with Sync AppLink.

Smaller Internet radio stations that don’t have the brand power to create their own automotive deals have options as well. Harman’s Aha Radio and TuneIn are two aggregators that have deals with car manufacturers to offer access to a wide variety of content through their platforms, and Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has announced deals with Toyota, GM, and Chrysler.

While market leaders like Pandora and Sirius XM make deals that put them front and center in your next new car, the truth is the dashboard of that car will probably have a unit installed that will enable you to access any content you want.

At the Connected Car Conference during CE Week in New York recently, Audiovox President Tom Malone discussed the automotive aftermarket products his company is bringing to market, which are all about letting the consumer bring whatever content they want into the car. Solutions that enable the consumer to connect to their content wirelessly through a variety of options -– smartphone, USB, cellular, and stored content in the car, for example -– are the focus now.

Connected car discussions are about more than just the dashboards these days too. Today’s consumers share listening less, and personalized content solutions are coming to the car as well, with rear seat docking solutions. Content delivery to cars is diversifying, putting the consumer in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing what they will listen to. Receivers that are dedicated purely to AM/FM or satellite are quickly becoming a thing of the past, replaced with devices that enable easy access and endless choice.

In a way, you could say that it’s a game in which content is king...

Jennifer Lane is president of RAIN Summits, which produces the premiere conference series for the Internet radio industry. She blogs at Audio4cast.com (where you can read this and other industry analysis), and is founder of Katz Net Radio Sales (now Katz360).